In Lands of
FACT AND FANCY
FRANK R STOCKTON
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872,
BY SCRIBNER. ARMSTRONG & CO.,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
WINTER IN THE WOODS
TRICKS OF LIGHT
SAVING THE TOLL
THE REAL KING OF BEASTS
THE FRENCH SOLDIER-BOY
A LIVELY WAY TO RING A BELL
DOWN IN THE EARTH
THE CONTINENTAL SOLDIER
A JUDGE OF MUSIC
THE SENSITIVE PLANT
UP IN THE AIR
THE ARABIAN HORSE
LIVING IN SMOKE
THE CANNON OF THE PALAIS-ROYAL
WATERS, DEEP AND SHALLOW
HANS THE HERB-GATHERER
SOME CUNNING INSECTS
A FIRST SIGHT OF THE SEA
THE LARGEST CHURCH IN THE WORLD
THE SOFT PLACE
A FEW FEATHERED FRIENDS
IN A WELL
A VEGETABLE GAS MANUFACTORY
AN OLD COUNTRY-HOUSE
LITTLE BRIDGET'S BATH
SOME NOVEL FISHING
EAGLES AND LITTLE GIRLS
THE WILD ASS
A BATTLE ON STILTS
DRAWING THE LONG BOW
AN ANCIENT THEATRE
BUYING "THE MIRROR"
THE BOOTBLACK'S DOG
GOING AFTER THE COWS
THE REFLECTIVE STAG
WHEN WE MUST NOT BELIEVE OUR EYES
A CITY UNDER THE GROUND
GEYSERS, AND HOW THEY WORK
A GIANT PUFF-BALL
TICKLED BY A STRAW
THE LIGHT IN THE CASTLE
THE OAK TREE
THE SICK PIKE
TWO KINDS OF BLOSSOMS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Minstrel on the Wall
Tricks in a Church
The Dance of Demons
The Lion's Head
The Theatrical Ghost
A Royal Procession
An Elephant after Him
The Dog's Protector
An Elephant Nurse
Saving the Artillery-man
The Gallant Elephant
The French Soldier-Boy
On a Bell
Fishes found in the Mammoth Cave
The Bottomless Pit
The Lion's Home
The Uncaged Lion
A Lion's Dinner
A Terrible Companion
Off to the Kitchen
Blind Man's Buff
In the Cellar
Handing round the Apples
The Drummer of 1776
The Continental Soldier
The Donkey in the Parlor
Above the Clouds
The Flying Man
Coming down Roughly
A Balloon with Sails and Rudders
Driven out to Sea
The Arabian Horse
In the Cornfield
A Big Mosquito
The Great River
Falls of Gavarni
The Falls of Zambesi
Fishing with a Net
Fishing with a Spear
A Pearl Oyster
A Bit of Cable
Hans, the Herb-Gatherer
A Spider at Home
The Ant's Arch
The Cock-chafer's Wing
The Spider's Bridge
The Moth and the Bees
St. Peter's at Rome
Interior of St. Peter's
The Five Young Deer
The Goose that Led
The Goose that Followed
The Sensible Duck
In a Well
A Company of Bears
The Black Bear
The Grizzly Bear
The White Bear
The Tame Bear
An old Country-House
The Pine Forest
The Giant Trees
The Great Eastern
Bridget and the Fairies
The Child and the Eagle
Climbing the Mountain
Andrew and Jenny
Transformation of Beetles
A Battle on Stilts
Drawing the Long Bow
The Outside Coffin
The Tame Snake
The Novel Team
Throwing the Hammer
Throwing the Stone
The Wild Boar
The Musk-Ox and the Sailor
Hunting the Brown Bear
A Brave Hippopotamus
A Rhinocerus Turning the Table
A Fight with a Gorilla
The Boot-black's Dog
Going after the Cows
The Reflective Stag
The Spectre of the Brocken
A Narrow Street in Pompeii
A Cleared Street in Pompeii
The Atrium in the House of Pansa
Ornaments from Pompeii
A Pompeiian Bakery
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii
The Grand Geyser
The Artificial Geyser
A Giant Puff-ball
Tickled by a Straw
The Oak Tree
The Vessels on Shore
The Sick Pike
The Queen's Mirror
The Portland Vase
The Strange Lady
Carl and the Duke
The little Grebe's Nest
The Stork's Nest
A Fish's Nest
Throwing the Boomerang
The Way the Boomerang Goes
Come along, boys and girls! We are off on our rambles. But please do not ask me where we are going. It would delay us very much if I should postpone our start until I had drawn you a map of the route, with all the stopping-places set down.
We have far to go, and a great many things to see, and it may be that some of you will be very tired before we get through.
If so, I shall be sorry; but it will be a comfort to think that none of us need go any farther than we choose.
There will be considerable variety in our rambles. We shall walk about familiar places, and we shall explore streets and houses that have been buried for centuries. We shall go down deep into the earth, and we shall float in a balloon, high up into the air. We shall see many beasts of the forest; some that are bloody and cruel, and others that are gentle and wise. We will meet with birds, fishes, grand old buildings, fleas, vast woods, bugs, mummies, snakes, tight-rope dancers, gorillas, will-o'-the-wisps, beautiful blossoms, boomerangs, oceans, birds' nests, and I cannot tell you what all besides. We will also have some adventures, hear some stories, and have a peep at a fairy or two before we are done.
I shall not, however, be able to go with you everywhere. When you are enjoying a "Bird Chat;" "Buying the Mirror;" learning when "We must not Believe our Eyes;" visiting "A City under the Ground;" hearing of "The Coachman's" troubles; sitting under "The Oak-tree;" finding out wonderful things "About Glass;" watching what happens when "School's Out;" or following the fortunes of "Carl," your guide will be a lady, and I think that you will all agree that she knows very well where she ought to go, and how to get there. The rest of the time you will be with me.
And now, having talked enough, suppose we start.
WINTER IN THE WOODS
What can be more delightful, to a boy of spirit, than a day in the woods when there has been a good snow! If he also happens to have a good friend or two, and some good dogs (who are just as likely to be friends as his boy-companions), he ought to be much happier than an ordinary king. A forest is a fine place at any time, but when the ground is well covered with snow—especially if there is a hard crust upon it—the woods seem to possess a peculiar charm. You can go anywhere then.
In the summer, the thick undergrowth, the intertwining vines, and the heavy lower branches of the trees, make it difficult even to see into the dark recesses of the forest. But in the winter all is open. The low wet places, the deep holes, the rotten bogs, everything on the ground that is in the way of a good run and a jump, is covered up. You do not walk a hundred yards under the bare branches of the trees before up starts a rabbit, or a hare, if you would rather call him by his right name,—and away go the dogs, and away you go—all of you tearing along at the top of your speed!
But poor Bunny has a small chance, when a hard snow is on the ground. His hiding-places are all covered up, and before he knows it the dogs have caught him, and your mother will have stewed rabbit for supper. It seems a hard fate for the poor little fellow, but he was born partly for that purpose.
When you have caught your rabbit, and come back to where the men are cutting wood, you will be just as proud to tell the boy who is cutting up the branches all about your splendid hunt, as if you had chased and killed a stag.
"There's where we started him!" you will cry, "and away he scudded, over there among the chestnuts, and Rover right at his heels, and when we got down there to the creek, Rover turned heels-over-head on the ice, he was going so fast; but I gave one slide right across, and just up there, by the big walnut, the other two dogs got him!"
That boy is almost as much excited as you are, and he would drop his axe in one minute, and be off with you on another chase, if his father were not there.
And now you find that you have reached the wood-cutters exactly in time, for that great tree is just about to come down.
There go the top-branches, moving slowly along through the tops of the other trees, and now they move faster, and everything begins to crack; and, with a rush and a clatter of breaking limbs, the great oak comes crashing down; jarring the very earth beneath your feet, and making the snow fly about like a sparkling cloud, while away run the dogs, with their tails between their legs.
The tree is down now, and you will want to be home in time for dinner. Farmer Brown's sled has just passed, and if you will cut across the woods you can catch up with him, and have a ride home, and tell him all about the rabbit-hunt, on the way.
If it is Saturday, and a holiday, you will be out again this afternoon, with some of the other boys, perhaps, and have a grand hunt.
Suppose it is snowing, what will you care? You will not mind the snow any more than if it were a shower of blossoms from the apple-trees in May.
TRICKS OF LIGHT.
There is nothing more straightforward in its ways than light—when we let it alone. But, like many of us, when it is introduced to the inventions and contrivances of the civilized world, it often becomes exceedingly fond of vagaries and extravagances.
Of all the companions of light which endeavor to induce it to forsake its former simple habits, there is not one which has the influence possessed by glass. When light and glass get together it is difficult to divine what tricks they are going to perform. But some of these are very interesting, if they are a little wild, and there are very few of us who do not enjoy them.
For instance, what a delight to any company, be it composed of young folks or old, is a magic-lantern! The most beautiful and the most absurd pictures may be made to appear upon the wall or screen. But there is an instrument, called the phantasmagoria, which is really nothing but an improved magic-lantern, which is capable of producing much more striking effects. It is a much larger instrument than the other, and when it is exhibited a screen is placed between it and the spectators, so that they do not see how the pictures are produced. It is mounted on castors, so that at times it can be brought nearer and nearer to the screen, until the picture seems to enlarge and grow in a wonderful manner. Then, when it is drawn back, the image diminishes and recedes far into the distance. The lenses and other mechanism of the phantasmagoria can also be moved in various directions, making the action of the pictures still more wonderful. Sometimes, when the instrument is exhibited in public, the screen is not used, but the pictures are thrown upon a cloud of smoke, which is itself almost invisible in the dim light of the room. In such a case the figures seem as if they were floating in the air.
A man, named Robertson, once gave exhibitions in Paris, in an old chapel, and at the close of his performances he generally caused a great skeleton figure of Death to appear among the pillars and arches. Many of the audience were often nearly scared to death by this apparition. The more ignorant people of Paris who attended these exhibitions, could not be persuaded, when they saw men, women, and animals walking about in the air between the arches of the chapel, that Robertson was not a magician, although he explained to them that the images were nothing but the effect of a lantern and some glass lenses. When these people could see that the figures were produced on a volume of smoke, they were still more astonished and awed, for they thought that the spirits arose from the fire which caused the smoke.
But Robertson had still other means of exhibiting the tricks of light. Opposite is a picture of the "Dance of Demons."
This delusion is very simple indeed, and is produced by placing a card-figure on a screen, and throwing shadows from this upon another screen, by means of several lights, held by assistants. Thus each light throws its own shadow, and if the candles are moved up and down, and about, the shadows will dance, jump over each other, and do all sorts of wonderful things. Robertson, and other public exhibitors, had quite complicated arrangements of this kind, but they all acted on the same principle. But all of those who exhibit to the public the freaks of light are not as honest as Mr. Robertson. You may have heard of Nostradamus, who also lived in Paris, but long before Robertson, and who pretended to be a magician. Among other things, he asserted that he could show people pictures of their future husbands or wives. Marie de Medicis, a celebrated princess of the time, came to him on this sensible errand, and he, being very anxious to please her, showed her, in a looking-glass, the reflected image of Henry of Navarre, sitting upon the throne of France. This, of course, astonished the princess very much, but it need not astonish us, if we carefully examine the picture of that conjuring scene.
The mirror into which the lady was to look, was in a room adjoining that in which Henry was sitting on the throne. It was placed at such an angle that her face would not be reflected in it, but an aperture in the wall allowed the figure of Henry to be reflected from a looking-glass, hung near the ceiling, down upon the "magic" mirror. So, of course, she saw his picture there, and believed entirely in the old humbug, Nostradamus.
But there are much simpler methods by which the vagaries of light may be made amusing, and among the best of these are what are called "Chinese shadows." These require a little ingenuity, but they are certainly simple enough. They consist of nothing but a card or paper, upon which the lights of the picture intended to be represented are cut out. When this is held between a candle and a wall, a startling shadow-image may be produced, which one would not imagine to have any connection with the card, unless he had studied the manner in which said card was cut. Here is a picture of a company amusing themselves with these cards. No one would suppose that the card which the young man is holding in his hand bore the least resemblance to a lion's head, but there is no mistaking the shadow on the wall.
The most wonderful public exhibitions of optical illusions have been those in which a real ghost or spectre apparently moves across the stage of a theatre. This has frequently been done in late years, both in this country and Europe. The audiences were perfectly amazed to see a spirit suddenly appear, walk about the stage, and act like a regular ghost, who did not seem to be in the least disturbed when an actor fired a pistol at him, or ran him through with a sword. The method of producing this illusion is well shown in the accompanying picture. A large plate of glass is placed in front of the stage so that the audience does not perceive it. The edges of it must be concealed by curtains, which are not shown in the picture. An actor, dressed as a ghost, walks in front of the stage below its level, where he is not seen by the audience, and a strong electric light being thrown upon him, his reflected image appears to the spectator as if it were walking about on the stage. When the light is put out of course the spirit instantly vanishes.
A very amusing account is given of a man who was hired to do some work about a theatre. He had finished his work for the present, and wishing to eat his supper, which he had brought with him, he chose a nice quiet place under the stage, where he thought he would not be disturbed. Not knowing that everything was prepared for the appearance of a ghost, he sat down in front of the electric lamp, and as soon as it was lighted the audience was amazed to see, sitting very comfortably in the air above the stage, a man in his shirt-sleeves, eating bread and cheese! Little did he think, when he heard the audience roaring with laughter, that they were laughing at his ghost!
Light plays so many tricks with our eyes and senses that it is possible to narrate but a few of them here. But those that I have mentioned are enough to show us what a wild fellow he is, especially where he and glass get frolicking together.
SAVING THE TOLL.
When I was a youngster and lived in the country, there were three of us boys who used to go very frequently to a small village about a mile from our homes. To reach this village it was necessary to cross a narrow river, and there was a toll-bridge for that purpose. The toll for every foot-passenger who went over this bridge was one cent. Now, this does not seem like a very high charge, but, at that time, we very often thought that we would much rather keep our pennies to spend in the village than to pay them to the old man who took toll on the bridge. But it was often necessary for us to cross the river, and to do so, and save our money at the same time, we used to adopt a very hazardous expedient.
At a short distance below the toll-bridge there was a railroad-bridge, which you cannot see in the picture. This bridge was not intended for anything but railroad trains; it was very high above the water, it was very long, and it was not floored. When any one stood on the cross-ties which supported the rails, he could look right down into the water far below him. For the convenience of the railroad-men and others who sometimes were obliged to go on the bridge, there was a single line of boards placed over the ties at one side of the track, and there was a slight hand-rail put up at that side of the bridge.
To save our pennies we used to cross this bridge, and every time we did so we risked our lives.
We were careful, however, not to go on the bridge at times when a train might be expected to cross it, for when the cars passed us, we had much rather be on solid ground. But one day, when we had forgotten the hour; or a train was behind, or ahead of time; or an extra train was on the road—we were crossing this railroad bridge, and had just about reached the middle of it, when we heard the whistle of a locomotive! Looking up quickly, we saw a train, not a quarter of a mile away, which was coming towards us at full speed. We stood paralyzed for a moment. We did not know what to do. In a minute, or less, the train would be on the bridge and we had not, or thought we had not, time to get off of it, whether we went forward or backward.
But we could not stand on that narrow path of boards while the train was passing. The cars would almost touch us. What could we do? I believe that if we had had time, we would have climbed down on the trestle-work below the bridge, and so let the train pass over us. But whatever could be done must be done instantly, and we could think of nothing better than to get outside of the railing and hold on as well as we could. In this position we would, at any rate, be far enough from the cars to prevent them from touching us. So out we got, and stood on the ends of the timbers, holding fast to the slender hand-rail. And on came the train! When the locomotive first touched the bridge we could feel the shock, and as it came rattling and grinding over the rails towards us—coming right on to us, as it seemed—our faces turned pale, you may well believe.
But the locomotive did not run off the track just at that exact spot where we were standing—a catastrophe which, I believe, in the bottom of our hearts, every one of us feared. It passed on, and the train came thundering after it. How dreadfully close those cars did come to us! How that bridge did shake and tremble in every timber; and how we trembled for fear we should be shaken off into the river so far below us! And what an enormously long train it was! I suppose that it took, really, but a very short time to pass, but it seemed to us as if there was no end to it at all, and as if it would never, never get entirely over that bridge!
But it did cross at last, and went rumbling away into the distance.
Then we three, almost too much frightened to speak to each other, crept under the rail and hurried over the bridge.
All that anxiety, that fright, that actual misery of mind, and positive danger of body, to save one cent apiece!
But we never saved any more money in that way. When we crossed the river after that, we went over the toll-bridge, and we paid our pennies, like other sensible people.
Had it been positively necessary for us to have crossed that river, and had there been no other way for us to do it but to go over the railroad bridge, I think we might have been called brave boys, for the bridge was very high above the water, and a timid person would have been very likely to have been frightened when he looked down at his feet, and saw how easy it would be for him to make a misstep and go tumbling down between the timbers.
But, as there was no necessity or sufficient reason for our risking our lives in that manner, we were nothing more or less than three little fools!
It would be well if all boys or girls, to whom a hazardous feat presents itself, would ask themselves the question: "Would it be a brave thing for me to do that, or would I be merely proving myself a simpleton?"
THE REAL KING OF BEASTS.
For many centuries there has been a usurper on the throne of the Beasts. That creature is the Lion.
But those who take an interest in the animal kingdom (and I am very sorry for those who do not) should force the Lion to take off the crown, put down the sceptre, and surrender the throne to the real King of Beasts—the Elephant.
There is every reason why this high honor should be accorded to the Elephant. In the first place, he is physically superior to the Lion. An Elephant attacked by a Lion could dash his antagonist to the ground with his trunk, run him through with his tusks, and trample him to death under his feet. The claws and teeth of the Lion would make no impression of any consequence on the Elephant's thick skin and massive muscles. If the Elephant was to decide his claim to the throne by dint of fighting for it, the Lion would find himself an ex-king in a very short time. But the Elephant is too peaceful to assert his right in this way—and, what is more, he does not suppose that any one could even imagine a Lion to be his superior. He never had such an idea himself.
But besides his strength of body, the Elephant is superior in intelligence to all animals, except the dog and man. He is said by naturalists to have a very fine brain, considering that he is only a beast. His instinct seems to rise on some occasions almost to the level of our practical reasoning, and the stories which are told of his smartness are very many indeed.
But no one can assert that the Lion has any particular intelligence. To be sure, there have been stories told of his generosity, but they are not many, and they are all very old. The Elephant proves his pre-eminence as a thinking beast every day. We see him very frequently in menageries, and we can judge of what he is capable. We see the Lion also, and we very soon find out what he can do. He can lie still and look grave and majestic; he can jump about in his cage, if he has been trained; and he can eat! He is certainly great in that respect.
We all know a great deal about the Elephant, how he is caught and tamed, and made the servant and sometimes the friend of man. This, however, seldom happens but in India. In Africa they do not often tame Elephants, as they hunt them generally for the sake of their ivory, and the poor beasts are killed by hundreds and hundreds so that we may have billiard-balls, knife-handles, and fine-tooth combs.
Rut whether the Elephant is wanted as a beast of burden, or it is only his great tusks that are desired, it is no joke to hunt him. He will not attack a man without provocation (except in very rare cases); when he does get in a passion it is time for the hunter to look out for his precious skin. If the man is armed with a gun, he must take the best of aim, and his bullets must be like young cannon-balls, for the Elephant's head is hard and his skin is tough. If the hunter is on a horse, he need not suppose that he can escape by merely putting his steed to its best speed. The Elephant is big and awkward-looking, but he gets over the ground in a very rapid manner.
Here is an illustration of an incident in which a boy found out, in great sorrow and trepidation, how fast an Elephant can run.
This boy was one of the attendants of the Duke of Edinburgh, one of Queen Victoria's sons, who was hunting Elephants in Africa. The Elephants which the party were after on that particular day had got out of the sight of the hunters, and this boy, being mounted on a horse, went to look them up. It was not long before he found them, and he also found much more than he had bargained for. He found that one of the big fellows was very much inclined to hunt him and he came riding out of the forest as hard as he could go, with a great Elephant full tilt after him. Fortunately for the boy, the Duke was ready with his gun, and when the Elephant came dashing up he put two balls into his head. The great beast dropped mortally wounded, and the boy was saved. I don't believe that he was so curious about the whereabouts of Elephants after that.
When the Elephant is desired as a servant, he is captured in various ways. Sometimes he is driven into great pens; sometimes he tumbles into pitfalls, and sometimes tame Elephants coax him into traps, and fondle and amuse him while their masters tie up his legs with strong ropes. The pitfalls are not favorite methods of capturing Elephants. Besides the injury that may be done to the animal, other beasts may fall into and disturb the trap, and even men may find themselves at the bottom of a great deep hole when they least expect it, for the top is very carefully covered over with sticks and leaves, so as to look as much as possible like the surrounding ground. Du Chaillu, who was a great hunter in Africa, once fell down one of these pits, and it was a long time before he could make anybody hear him and come and help him out. If an Elephant had happened to put his foot on the covering of that hole while Du Chaillu was down there, the hunter would have found himself very much crowded.
When the Elephant is caught, he is soon tamed and trained, and then he goes to work to make himself useful, if there is anything for him to do. And it is when he becomes the servant and companion of man that we have an opportunity of seeing what a smart fellow he is.
It is sometimes hard to believe all that we hear of the Elephant's cleverness and sagacity, but we know that most of the stories we hear about him are true.
For instance, an Elephant which was on exhibition in this country had a fast and true friend, a little dog. One day, when these animals were temporarily residing in a barn, while on their march from one town to another, the Elephant heard some men teasing the dog, just outside of the barn. The rough fellows made the poor little dog howl and yelp, as they persecuted him by all sorts of mean tricks and ill usage. When the Elephant heard the cries of his friend he became very much worried, and when at last he comprehended that the dog was being badly treated, he lifted up his trunk and just smashed a great hole in the side of the barn, making the stones and boards fly before him.
When the men saw this great head sticking out through the side of the barn, and that great long trunk brandishing itself above their heads, they thought it was time to leave that little dog alone.
Here, again, is an Elephant story which is almost as tough as the animal's hide, but we have no right to disbelieve it, for it is told by very respectable writers. During the war between the East Indian natives and the English, in 1858, there was an Elephant named Kudabar Moll the Second,—his mother having been a noted Elephant named Kudabar Moll. This animal belonged to the British army, and his duty was to carry a cannon on his back. In this way he became very familiar with artillery. During a battle, when his cannon was posted on a battery, and was blazing away at the enemy, the good Kudabar was standing, according to custom, a few paces in the rear of the gunners. But the fire became very hot on that battery, and very soon most of the gunners were shot down, so that there was no one to pass the cartridges from the ammunition wagon to the artillery-men. Perceiving this, Kudabar, without being ordered, took the cartridges from the wagon, and passed them, one by one, to the gunner. Very soon, however, there were only three men left, and these, just as they had loaded their cannon for another volley, fell killed or wounded, almost at the same moment. One of them, who held a lighted match in his hand, called as he fell to the Elephant and handed him the match. The intelligent Kudabar took the match in his trunk, stepped up to the cannon, and fired it off!
He was then about to apply the match to others, when re-enforcements came up, and his services as an artillery-man were no longer required.
I cannot help thinking, that if that Elephant had been furnished with a pen and ink, he might possibly have written a very good account of the battle.
But few stories are quite as wonderful as that one. We have no difficulty at all in believing the account of the Elephant who took care of a little child. He did not wear a cap and apron, as the artist has shown in the picture, but he certainly was a very kind and attentive nurse. When the child fell down, the Elephant would put his trunk gently around it, and pick it up. When it got tangled among thorns or vines, the great nurse would disengage it as carefully as any one could have done it; and when it wandered too far, the Elephant would bring it back and make it play within proper limits. I do not know what would have been the consequence if this child had behaved badly, and the Elephant had thought fit to give it a box on the ear. But nothing of the kind ever happened, and the child was a great deal safer than it would have been with many ordinary nurses.
There are so many stories told about the Elephant that I can allude to but few, even if I did not believe that you were familiar with a great many of them.
One of the most humane and thoughtful Elephants of whom I have ever heard was one which was attached, like our friend Kudabar, to an artillery train in India. He was walking, on a march, behind a wagon, when he perceived a soldier slip down in the road and fall exactly where, in another instant, the hind-wheel of the wagon would pass over him. Without being ordered, the Elephant seized the wheel with his trunk, lifted it—wagon and all—in the air, and held it up until it had passed over the fallen soldier!
Neither you nor I could have done better than that, even if we had been strong enough.
A very pretty story is told of an Indian Elephant who was very gallant. His master, a young Burman lord, had recently been married, and, shortly after the wedding, he and his bride, with many of their guests and followers, were gathered together in the veranda, on the outside of his house. The Elephant, who was a great favorite with the young lord, happened to be conducted past the house as the company were thus enjoying themselves. Feeling, no doubt, that it was right to be as polite as possible on this occasion, he put his trunk over a bamboo-fence which enclosed a garden, and selecting the biggest and brightest flower he could see, he approached the veranda, and rearing himself upon his hind-legs, he stretched out his trunk, with the flower held delicately in the little finger at its end, towards the company. One of the women reached out her hand for it, but the Elephant would not give it to her. Then his master wished to take it, but the Elephant would not let him have it. But when the newly-made bride came forward the Elephant presented it to her with all the grace of which he was capable!
Now, do you not think that an animal which is larger and more powerful than any beast which walks the earth, and is, at the same time, gentle enough to nurse a child, humane enough to protect a dog or a man, and sensible enough to be polite to a newly-married lady, is deserving of the title of the King of Beasts?
THE FRENCH SOLDIER-BOY
Anxiously the General-in-chief of the French Army stood upon a little mound overlooking the battle-field. The cannon were thundering, the musketry was rattling, and clouds of smoke obscured the field and the contending armies.
"Ah!" thought he, "if that town over yonder is not taken; if my brave captains fall, and my brave soldiers falter at that stone wall; and if our flag shall not soon wave over those ramparts, France may yet be humbled."
Is it, then, a wonder, feeling that so much depended on the result of this battle, that his eyes strove so earnestly to pierce the heavy clouds of smoke that overhung the scene?
But while he stood, there came towards him, galloping madly out of the battle, a solitary rider.
In a few minutes he had reached the General, and thrown himself from his saddle.
It was a mere boy—one of the very youngest of soldiers!
"Sire!" he cried, "we've taken the town! Our men are in the market-place, and you can ride there now! And see!—upon the walls—our flag!"
The eyes of the General flashed with joy and triumph. Here was glorious news!
As he turned to the boy to thank him for the more than welcome tidings that he brought, he noticed that the lad was pale and trembling, and that as he stood holding by the mane of his horse, his left hand was pressed upon his chest, and the blood was slowly trickling between his fingers.
"My boy!" said he, tenderly, as he fixed his eyes upon the stripling, "you're wounded!"
"No, sire!" cried the boy, his pale face flushing as his General thus addressed him, and the shouts of victory filled his ears, "I am not wounded; I am killed!" And down at his General's feet he fell and died.
There have been brave men upon the battle-field ever since the world began, but there never was a truer soldier's heart than that which kept this boy alive until he had borne to his General the glorious news of the battle won.
A LIVELY WAY TO RING A BELL.
Here are two young men who look very much as if they were trying to break their necks; but in reality they have no such desire.
They are simply ringing that great bell, and riding backward and forward on it as it swings through the air.
These young fellows are Spaniards, and in many churches in their country it is considered a fine thing to go up into the belfry of a church or cathedral, and, when the regular bell-ringers are tired, to jump on the great bells and swing away as hard as they can make them go. No matter about any particular peal or style of ringing.
The faster and the more furiously they swing, the jollier the ride, and the greater the racket. Sometimes in a cathedral there are twenty bells, all going at once, with a couple of mad chaps riding on each one of them. It is, doubtless, a very pleasant amusement, after one gets used to it, but it is a wonder that some of those young men are not shot off into the air, when the great bell gets to swinging as fast and as far as it can go.
But although they hold on as tightly as if they were riding a wild young colt, they are simply foolhardy. No man or boy has a right to risk his life and limbs in such reckless feats.
There is no probability, however, of the sport ever being introduced into this country.
Even if there were no danger in it, such a clatter and banging as is heard in a Spanish belfry, when the young men are swinging on the bells, would never be allowed in our churches. The Spaniards may like such a noise and hubbub, but they like a great many things which would not suit us.
DOWN IN THE EARTH.
Let us take a little trip down under the surface of the earth. There will be something unusual about such an excursion. Of course, as we are not going to dig our way, we will have to find a convenient hole somewhere, and the best hole for the purpose which I know of is in Edmondson County, Kentucky.
So let us go there.
When we reach this hole we find that it is not a very large one, but still quite high and wide enough for us to enter. But, before we go in to that dark place, we will get some one to carry a light and guide us; for this underground country which we are going to explore is very extensive, very dark, and, in some places, very dangerous.
Here is a black man who will go with us. He has a lantern, and he says he knows every nook and corner of the place. So we engage him, get some lanterns for ourselves, and in we go. We commence to go downwards very soon after we have passed from the outer air and sunshine, but it is not long before we stand upon a level surface, where we can see nothing of the outside world. If our lanterns went out, we should be in pitchy darkness.
Now we are in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky!
This vast cavern, which stretches so many miles beneath the surface of the earth, has never been fully explored; but we are going over as much of it as our guide is accustomed to show to visitors, and if our legs are not tired before we get back I shall be very much surprised, for the trip will take us all day. The floor on which we are now standing is smooth and level, and runs back into the interior of the cave fully a thousand yards. This place they call the "Audubon Gallery"—after our famous naturalist who made birds the study of his life. His works are published in enormous volumes, costing about one hundred and fifty dollars apiece. Perhaps your father will get you one.
We pass quickly through this gallery, where there is not much to see, although, to be sure, they used to manufacture saltpetre here. Think of that! A manufactory in the bowels of the earth! Then we enter a large, roundish room called the "Rotunda," and from this there are a great many passages, leading off in various directions. One of these, which is called the "Grand Vestibule," will take us to the "Church."
Yes, we have a church here, and, what is more, there has been preaching in it, although I have never heard that it had any regular members. This room has a vast arched roof, and a great many stalactites hang from the walls and roof in such a way as to give one an idea of Gothic architecture. Therefore this has been called the "Gothic Church." You can see a great deal which looks like old-fashioned church ornaments and furniture, and, as the light of the lanterns flashes about on the walls and ceiling, you can imagine a great deal more.
After this we come to the "Gothic Avenue," which would be a very interesting place to us if we but had a little more time; but we hurry through it, for the next room we are to visit is called the "Haunted Chamber!" Every one of us must be very anxious to see anything of that kind. When we get into it, however, we are very much disappointed. It is not half so gloomy and dark as the rest of the cave, for here we are pretty sure to find people, and lights, and signs of life.
Here you may sometimes buy gingerbread and bottled beer, from women who have stands here for that purpose. It is expected that when visitors get this far they will be hungry. Sometimes, too, there are persons who live down here, and spend most of their time in this chamber. These are invalid people with weak lungs, who think that the air of the cave is good for them. I do not know whether they are right or not, but I am sure that they take very gloomy medicine. The only reason for calling this room the Haunted Chamber is, that the first explorers of the cave found mummies here.
Who these were when they were alive, no man can say. If they were Indians, they were very different Indians from those who have lived in this country since its discovery. They do not make mummies. But all over our land we find evidences that some race—now extinct—lived here before the present North American Indian.
Whether the ghosts of any of these mummies walk about in this room. I cannot say; but as no one ever saw any, or heard any, or knew anybody who had seen or heard any, I think it is doubtful.
When we leave this room we go down some ladders and over a bridge, and then we enter what is called the "Labyrinth," where the passage turns and twists on itself in a very abrupt manner, and where the roof is so low that all of us, except those who are very short indeed, must stoop very low. When we get through this passage, which some folks call the "Path of Humiliation"—for everybody has to bow down, you know—we come to a spot where the guide says he is going to show us something through a window.
The window is nothing but a hole broken in a rocky wall; but as we look through it, and hold the lanterns so that we can see as much as possible, we perceive that we are gazing down into a deep and enormous well. They call it the "Bottomless Pit." If we drop bits of burning paper into this well we can see them fall down, down, and down, until they go out, but can never see them stop, as if they had reached the bottom.
The hole through which we are looking is cut through one side of this well, so that there is a great deal of it above us as well as below; but although we hold our lanterns up, hoping to see the top, we can see nothing but pitchy darkness up there. The roof of this pit is too high for the light to strike upon it. Here is a picture of some persons dropping lights down into this pit, hoping to be able to see the bottom.
We must climb up and down some more ladders now, and then we will reach the "Mammoth Dome." This is a vast room—big enough for a gymnasium for giants—and the roof is so high that no ordinary light will show it. It is nearly four hundred feet from the floor. The next room we visit is one of the most beautiful places in the whole cave. It is called the Starry Chamber. The roof and walls and floor are covered with little bright bits of stone, which shine and glitter, when a light is brought into the room, like real stars in the sky. If the guide is used to his business, he can here produce most beautiful effects. By concealing his lantern behind a rock or pillar, and then gradually bringing it out, throwing more and more light upon the roof, he can create a most lovely star-light scene.
At first all will be dark, and then a few stars will twinkle out, and then there will be more of them, and each one will be brighter, and at last you will think you are looking up into a dark sky full of glorious shining stars! And if you look at the walls you will see thousands of stars that seem as if they were dropping from the sky; and if you cast your eyes upon the ground, you will see it covered with other thousands of stars that seem to have already fallen!
This is a lovely place, but we cannot stay here any longer. We want to reach the underground stream of which we have heard so much—the "River Styx."
This is a regular river, running through a great part of the Mammoth Cave. You may float on it in a boat, and, if you choose, you may fish in it, although you would not be likely to catch anything. But if you did, the fish would have no eyes! All the fish in this river are blind. You can easily perceive that eyes would be of no use in a place where it is always as dark as pitch, except when travellers come along with their lanterns.
There is a rough boat here, and we will get into it and have a row over this dark and gloomy river. Whenever our guide shouts we hear the wildest kind of echoes, and everything seems solemn and unearthly. At one time our boat stops for a moment, and the guide goes on shore, and directly we hear the most awful crash imaginable. It sounds as if a dozen gong-factories had blown up at once, and we nearly jump out of the boat! But we soon see that it was nothing but the guide striking on a piece of sheet-iron or tin. The echoes, one after another, from this noise had produced the horrible crashing sounds we had heard.
After sailing along for about half an hour we land, and soon reach an avenue which has its walls ornamented with beautiful flowers—all formed on the rocky walls by the hand of Nature.
Now we visit the "Ball Room," which is large and handsome, with its walls as white as snow. Leaving this, we take a difficult and exciting journey to the "Rocky Mountains." We go down steep paths, which are narrow, and up steep ones, which are wide; we jump over wide cracks and step over great stones, and we are getting very tired of scrambling about in the bowels of the earth; but the guide tells us that if we will but cross the "mountains"—which we find to be nothing more than great rocks, which have fallen from the roof above, but which, however, are not very easy to get over—we shall rest in the "Fairy Grotto." So on we push, and reach the delightful abode of the fairies of the Mammoth Cave. That is, if there were any fairies in this cave, they would live here.
And a splendid place they would have!
Great colonnades and magnificent arches, all ornamented with beautiful stalactites of various forms, and glittering like cut-glass in the light of our lanterns, and thousands of different ornaments of sparkling stone, many of them appearing as if they were cut by the hand of skilful artists, adorn this beautiful grotto. At one end there is a group of stalactites, which looks to us exactly like a graceful palm-tree cut out of alabaster. All over the vast hall we can hear the pattering and tinkling of the water, which has been dripping, drop by drop, for centuries, and making, as it carried with it little particles of earth and rock, all these beautiful forms which we see.
We have now walked nearly five miles into the great cave, and there is much which we have not seen. But we must go back to the upper earth. We will have a tiresome trip of it, but it is seldom that we can get anything good without taking a little trouble for it. And to have seen this greatest of all natural caverns is worth far more labor and fatigue than we have expended on its exploration. There is nothing like it in the known world.
I do not desire to be wanting in respect to the Lion. Because I asserted that it was my opinion that he should resign the throne of the King of Beasts to the Elephant, I do not wish to deprive him of any part of his just reputation.
The Lion, with the exception of any animal but the Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Hippopotamus, and such big fellows, is the strongest of beasts. Compared to Tigers and Panthers, he is somewhat generous, and compared to most of the flesh-eating animals, he is quite intelligent. Lions have been taught to perform certain feats when in a state of captivity; but, as all of us know who have seen the performing animals in a menagerie, he is by no means the equal of a Dog or an Elephant.
The Lion appears to the greatest advantage in the midst of his family. When he and his wife are taking their walks abroad they will often fly before a man, especially if he is a white man.
But at home, surrounded by their little ones, the case is different. Those cubs, in the picture of the Lion's home, are nice little fellows, and you might play with them without fear of more than a few scratches. But where is the brave man who would dare to go down among those rocks, armed with guns, pistols, or whatever he pleased, and take one of them!
I do not think he lives in your town.
We never see a Lion looking very brave or noble in a cage. Most of those that I have seen appeared to me to be excessively lazy. They had not half the spirit of the tigers and wolves. But, out in his native country, he presents a much more imposing spectacle, especially if one can get a full view of him when he is a little excited. Here is a picture of such a Lion as you will not see in a cage.
Considering his size, the strength of the Lion is astonishing. He will kill an ox with one blow of his great paw, if he strikes it on the back, and then seizing it in his great jaws, he will carry it off almost as easily as you could carry a baby.
And when he has carried his prey to the spot where he chooses to have his dinner, he shows that no beast can surpass him in the meat-eating line. When he has satisfied his hunger on an ox, there is not much left for those who come to the second table. And there are often other Lions, younger and weaker than the one who has provided the dinner, who must wait until their master or father is done before they have a chance to take a bite. But, as you may see by this picture, they do not wait very patiently. They roar and growl and grumble until their turn comes.
Lions have some very peculiar characteristics. When they have made a bound upon their prey and have missed it, they seldom chase the frightened animal. They are accustomed to make one spring on a deer or an ox, and to settle the matter there and then. So, after a failure to do this, they go to the place from which they have made the spring and practise the jump over and over until they feel that they can make it the next time they have a chance.
This is by no means a bad idea for a Lion—or a man either.
Another of their peculiarities is their fear of traps and snares. Very often they will not spring upon an ox or a horse, simply because it is tied to a tree. They think there is some trick when they see the animal is fastened by a rope.
And when they come upon a man who is asleep, they will very often let him lie undisturbed. They are not accustomed to seeing men lying about in their haunts, and they don't know what to make of it. Sometimes they take it in their heads to lie down there themselves. Then it becomes disagreeable for the man when he awakes.
A story of this kind is told of an African who had been hunting, and who, being tired, had lain down to sleep. When he awoke there lay a great Lion at a short distance from him! For a minute or two the man remained motionless with fright, and then he put forth his hand to take his gun, which was on the ground a few feet from him.
But when the Lion saw him move he raised his head and roared.
The man was quiet in a second.
After a while it began to be terribly hot, and the rocks on which the poor man was lying became so heated by the sun that they burned his feet.
But whenever he moved the old Lion raised his head and growled.
The African lay there for a very long time, and the Lion kept watch over him. I expect that Lion had had a good meal just before he saw this man, and he was simply saving him up until he got hungry again. But, fortunately, after the hunter had suffered awfully from the heat of the burning sun, and had also lain there all night, with this dreadful beast keeping watch over him, the Lion became thirsty before he got hungry, and when he went off to a spring to get a drink the African crawled away.
If that Lion had been a Tiger, I think he would have killed the man, whether he wished to eat him or not.
So there is something for the Lion's reputation.
Bob was not a very big boy, but he was a lively little fellow and full of fun. You can see him there in the picture, riding on his brother Jim's back. One evening there happened to be a great many boys and girls at Bob's father's house. The grown-up folks were having a family party, and as they were going to stay all night—you see this was in the country—some of them brought their children with them.
It was not long after supper that a game of Blind-Man's-Buff was proposed, and, as it would not do to have such an uproar in the sitting-room as the game would produce, the children were all packed off to the kitchen. There they have a glorious time. Jim is the first one blindfolded, and, as he gropes after the others, they go stumbling up against tables, and rattling down tin-pans, and upsetting each other in every direction. Old Grandfather, who has been smoking his pipe by the kitchen fire, takes as much pleasure in the game as the young folks, and when they tumble over his legs, or come banging up against his chair, he only laughs, and warns them not to hurt themselves.
I could not tell you how often Grandfather was caught, and how they all laughed at the blind-man when he found out whom he had seized.
But after a while the children became tired of playing Blind-Man's-Buff, and a game of Hide-and-Seek was proposed. Everybody was in favor of that, especially little Bob. It appears that Bob had not a very good time in the other game. Everybody seemed to run up against him and push him about, and whenever he was caught the blind-man said "Bob!" immediately. You see there was no mistaking Bob; he was so little.
But in Hide-and-Seek he would have a better chance. He had always liked that game ever since he had known how to play anything. He was a good little fellow for hiding, and he knew it.
When the game had begun, and all the children—except the biggest girl, who was standing in a corner, with her hands before her face, counting as fast as she could, and hoping that she would come to one hundred before everybody had hidden themselves—had scampered off to various hiding-places, Bob still stood in the middle of the kitchen-floor, wondering where in the world he should go to! All of a sudden—the girl in the corner had already reached sixty-four—he thought he would go down in the cellar.
There was no rule against that—at least none that he knew of—and so, slipping softly to the cellar-door, over in the darkest corner of the kitchen, he opened it, and went softly down the steps.
There was a little light on the steps, for Bob did not shut the door quite tightly after him, and if there had been none at all, he would have been quite as well pleased. He was not afraid of the dark, and all that now filled his mind was the thought of getting somewhere where no one could possibly find him. So he groped his way under the steps, and there he squatted down in the darkness, behind two barrels which stood in a corner.
"Now," thought Bob, "she won't find me—easy."
He waited there a good while, and the longer he waited the prouder he became.
"I'll bet mine's the hardest place of all," he said to himself.
Bob heard a great deal of noise and shouting after the big girl came out from her corner and began finding the others, and he also heard a bang above his head, but he did not know that it was some one shutting the cellar-door. After that all was quiet.
Bob listened, but could not hear a step. He had not the slightest idea, of course, that they had stopped playing and were telling stories by the kitchen fire. The big girl had found them all so easily that Hide-and-Seek had been voted down.
Bob had his own ideas in regard to this silence. "I know," he whispered to himself, "they're all found, and they're after me, and keeping quiet to hear me breathe!"
And, to prevent their finding his hiding-place by the sound of his breathing, Bob held his breath until he was red in the face. He had heard often enough of that trick of keeping quiet and listening to breathing. You couldn't catch him that way!
When he was at last obliged to take a breath, you might have supposed he would have swallowed half the air in the cellar. He thought he had never tasted anything so good as that long draught of fresh air.
"Can't hold my breath all the time!" Bob thought. "If I could, maybe they'd never find me at all," which reflection was much nearer the truth than the little fellow imagined.
I don't know how long Bob had been sitting under the steps—it may have been five minutes, or it may have been a quarter of an hour, and he was beginning to feel a little cold—when he heard the cellar-door open, and some one put their foot upon the steps.
"There they are!" he thought, and he cuddled himself up in the smallest space possible.
Some one was coming down, sure enough, but it was not the children, as Bob expected. It was his Aunt Alice and her cousin Tom Green. They had come down to get some cider and apples for the company, and had no thought of Bob. In fact, when Bob was missed it was supposed that he had got tired and had gone up-stairs, where old Aunt Hannah was putting some of the smaller children to bed.
So, of course, Alice and Tom Green did not try to find him, but Bob, who could not see them, thought it was certainly some of the children come down to look for him.
In this picture of the scene in the cellar, little Bob is behind those two barrels in the right-hand upper corner, but of course you can't see him. He knows how to hide too well for that.
But when Tom and Alice spoke, Bob knew their voices and peeped out.
"Oh!" he thought, "it's only Aunt Alice and he. They've come down for cider and things. I've got to hide safe now, or they'll tell when they go up-stairs."
"I didn't know all them barrels had apples in! I thought some were potatoes. I wish they would just go up-stairs again and leave that candle on the floor! I wonder if they will forget it! If they do, I'll just eat a whole hat-full of those big red apples, and some of the streakedy ones in the other barrel too; and then I'll put my mouth to the spigot of that cider-barrel, and turn it, and drink and drink and drink—and if there isn't enough left in that barrel, I'll go to another one and turn that. I never did have enough cider in all my life. I wish they'd hurry and go up.
"Kissin'! what's the good of kissin'! A cellar ain't no place for that. I expect they won't remember to forget the candle if they don't look out!
"Oh, pshaw! just look at 'em! They're a-going up again, and taking the candle along! The mean things!"
Poor little Bob!
There he sat in his corner, all alone again in the darkness and silence, for Tom and Alice had shut the cellar-door after them when they had gone up-stairs. He sat quietly for a minute or two, and then he said to himself:
"I b'lieve I'd just as lieve they'd find me as not."
And to help them a little in their search he began to kick very gently against one of the barrels.
Poor Bob! If you were to kick with all your force and even upset the barrel they would not hear you. And what is more, they are not even thinking of you, for the apples are now being distributed.
"I wonder," said the little fellow to himself, "if I could find that red-apple barrel in the dark. But then I couldn't tell the red ones from the streakedy ones. But either of 'em would do. I guess I won't try, though, for I might put my hand on a rat. They run about when it's dark. I hope they won't come in this corner. But there's nothin' for 'em to eat in this corner but me, and they ain't lions. I wonder if they'll come down after more cider when that's all drunk up. If they do, I guess I'll come out and let Aunt Alice tell them all where I am. I don't like playin' this game when it's too long."
And so he sat and waited and listened, and his eye-lids began to grow heavy and his head began to nod, and directly little Bob was fast asleep in the dark corner behind the barrels.
By ten o'clock the children were all put to bed, and soon after the old folks went up-stairs, leaving only Tom Green, Alice, and some of the young men and women down in the big sitting-room.
Bob's mother went up into the room where several of the children were sleeping, and after looking around, she said to the old colored nurse:
"Hannah, what have you done with Bob?"
"I didn't put him to bed, mum. I spect Miss Alice has took him to her bed. She knowed how crowded the chil'un all was, up here."
"But Alice has not gone to bed," said Bob's mother.
"Don't spect she has, mum," said Hannah. "But I reckon she put him in her bed till she come."
"I'll go and see," said Bob's mother.
She went, and she saw, but she didn't see Bob! And he wasn't in the next room, or in any bed in the house, or under any bed, or anywhere at all, as far as she could see; and so, pretty soon, there was a nice hubbub in that house!
Bob's mother and father, and his grandfather, and Hannah, and the young folks in the parlor, and nearly all the rest of the visitors, ransacked the house from top to bottom. Then they looked out of doors, and some of them went around the yard, where they could see very plainly, as it was bright moonlight. But though they searched and called, there was no Bob.
The house-doors being open, Snag the dog came in, and he joined in the search, you may be sure, although I do not know that he exactly understood what they were looking for.
Some one now opened the cellar-door, but it seemed preposterous to look down in the cellar for the little fellow.
But nothing was preposterous to Snag.
The moment the cellar-door was opened he shuffled down the steps as fast as he could go. He knew there was somebody down there.
And when those who followed him with a candle reached the cellar-floor, there was Snag, with his head between the barrels, wagging his tail as if he was trying to jerk it off, and whining with joy as he tried to stick his cold nose into the rosy face of little sleeping Bob.
It was Tom Green who carried Bob up-stairs, and very soon indeed, all the folks were gathered in the kitchen, and Bob sleepily told his story.
"But Tom and I were down in the cellar," said his Aunt Alice, "and we didn't see you."
"I guess you didn't," said Bob, rubbing his eyes. "I was a-hidin' and you was a-kissin'."
What a shout of laughter arose in the kitchen at this speech! Everybody laughed so much that Bob got wide awake and wanted some apples and cake.
The little fellow certainly made a sensation that night; but it was afterwards noticed that he ceased to care much for the game of Hide-and-Seek. He played it too well, you see.
THE CONTINENTAL SOLDIER.
Did you ever see a Continental Soldier? I doubt it. Some twenty years ago there used to be a few of them scattered here and there over the country, but they must be nearly all gone now. About a year ago there were but two of them left. Those whom some of us can remember were rather mournful old gentlemen. They shuffled about their dwelling-places, they smoked their pipes, and they were nearly always ready to talk about the glorious old days of the Revolution. It was well they had those days to fall back upon, for they had but little share in the glories of the present. When they looked abroad upon the country that their arms, and blood perhaps, had helped give to that vigorous Young America which now swells with prosperity from Alaska to Florida, they could see very little of it which they could call their own.
It was difficult to look upon those feeble old men and imagine that they were once full of vigor and fire; that they held their old flintlocks with arms of iron when the British cavalry rushed upon their bayonets; that their keen eyes flashed a deadly aim along their rusty rifle-barrels; that, with their good swords quivering in their sinewy hands, they urged their horses boldly over the battle-field, shouting brave words to their advancing men; and that they laughed at heat and cold, patiently endured hunger and privation, strode along bravely on the longest marches, and, at last, stood proudly by when Cornwallis gave up his sword.
Those old gentlemen did not look like anything of that sort. Their old arms could hardly manage their old canes; their old legs could just about carry them on a march around the garden, and they were very particular indeed about heat and cold.
But History and Art will better keep alive the memory of their good deeds, and call more vigorously upon the gratitude of their countrymen, than those old Continentallers could themselves have done it, had they lived on for years and years, and told generation after generation how once they galloped proudly along the ranks, or, in humbler station, beat with vigorous arm the stirring drum-roll that called their comrades to the battle-field.
A JUDGE OF MUSIC.
It is not well to despise anybody or anything until you know what they can do. I have known some very stupid-looking people who could do a sum in the rule-of-three in a minute, and who could add up a column of six figures abreast while I was just making a beginning at the right-hand bottom corner. But stupid-looking beings are often good at other things besides arithmetic. I have seen doctors, with very dull faces, who knew all about castor-oil and mustard-plasters, and above you see a picture of a Donkey who understood music.
This animal had a very fine ear for music. You can see how much ear he had, and I have no doubt that he enjoyed the sweet sounds from one end to the other of those beautiful long flaps. Well, he very often had an opportunity of enjoying himself, for the lady of the house was a fine musician, and she used to sing and play upon the piano nearly every day. And as soon as he heard the sweet sounds which thrilled his soul, the Donkey would come to the parlor window and listen.
One day the lady played and sang something which was particularly sweet and touching. I never heard the name of the song—whether it was "I'm sitting on the stile, Mary," or "A watcher, pale and weary"—but if it was the latter, I am not surprised that it should have overcome even a jackass. At any rate, the music so moved the soul of Mr. Donkey that he could no longer restrain himself, but entering the open door he stepped into the parlor, approached the lady, and with a voice faltering from the excess of his emotion, he joined in the chorus!
The lady jumped backwards and gave a dreadful scream, and the Donkey, thinking that the music went up very high in that part, commenced to bray at such a pitch that you could have heard him if you had been up in a balloon.
That was a lively concert; but it was soon ended by the lady rushing from the room and sending her man John to drive out the musical jackass with a big stick.
Fortunately, all donkeys have not this taste for music. The nearest that the majority of jackasses come to being votaries of music is when their skins are used for covering cases for musical instruments. And if they have any ambition in the cause of harmony, that is better than nothing.
THE SENSITIVE PLANT.
There was never a better name for a plant than this, for the delicate leaves which grow on this slender stalk are almost as sensitive to the touch as if they were alive. If you place your hand on a growing plant, you will soon see all the leaves on the stem that you have touched fold themselves up as tightly as if they had been packed up carefully to be sent away by mail or express. In some of the common kinds of this plant, which grow about in our fields, it takes some time for the leaves to fold after they have been touched or handled; but if you watch them long enough—five or ten minutes—you will see that they never fail to close. They are not so sensitive as their cultivated kindred, but they still have the family disposition.
Now this is certainly a wonderful property for a plant to possess, but it is not half so strange as another trait of these same pretty green leaves. They will shut up when it is dark, and open when it is light.
It may be said that many other plants will do this, but that is a mistake. Many flowers and leaves close at night and open in the day-time, but very few indeed exhibit the peculiar action of the sensitive plant in this respect. That plant will open at night if you bring a bright light into the room where it is growing, and it will close its leaves if the room is made dark in the day-time.
Other plants take note of times and seasons. The sensitive plant obeys no regular rules of this kind, but acts according to circumstances.
When I was a boy, I often used to go to a green-house where there were a great many beautiful and rare plants; but I always thought that the sensitive plant was the most wonderful thing in the whole collection, and I did not know then how susceptible it was to the influence of light. I was interested in it simply because it seemed to have a sort of vegetable reason, and understood that it should shut up its leaves whenever I touched it.
But there were things around me in the vegetable kingdom which were still more wonderful than that, and I took no notice of them at all.
In the garden and around the house, growing everywhere, in the most common and ordinary places, were vines of various kinds—I think there were more morning-glories than anything else—and these exhibited a great deal more sense, and a much nearer approach to reasoning powers, than the sensitive plants, which were so carefully kept in the green-house.
When one of these vines came up out of the earth, fresh from its seed, the first thing it wanted, after its tendrils began to show themselves, was something to climb up upon. It would like a good high pole. Now, if there was such a pole within a few feet of the little vine it would grow straight towards it, and climb up it!
It would not grow first in one direction, and then in another and then in another, until it ran against something to climb on, but it would go right straight towards the pole, as if it saw it, and knew it was a good one for its purpose.
I think that there is not much in the vegetable kingdom more wonderful than that.
Sir Marmaduke was a good old English gentleman, all of the olden time. There you see him, in his old-fashioned dining-room, with his old-fashioned wife holding her old-fashioned distaff, while he is surrounded by his old-fashioned arms, pets, and furniture.
On his hand he holds his hawk, and his dogs are enjoying the great wood fire. His saddle is thrown on the floor; his hat and his pipes lie near it; his sword and his cross-bows are stood up, or thrown down, anywhere at all, and standing by his great chair is something which looks like a coal-scuttle, but which is only a helmet.
Sir Marmaduke was certainly a fine old gentleman. In times of peace he lived happily with his family, and was kind and generous to the poor around him. In times of war he fought bravely for his country.
But what a different old gentleman would he have been had he lived in our day!
Then, instead of saying "Rebeck me!" and "Ods Boddikins!" when his hawk bit his finger or something else put him out of humor, he would have exclaimed, "Oh, pshaw!" or, "Botheration!" Instead of playing with a hawk, he would have had a black-and-tan terrier,—if he had any pet at all; and his wife would not have been bothering herself with a distaff, when linen, already spun and woven, could be bought for fifty cents a yard. Had she lived now, the good lady would have been mending stockings or crocheting a tidy.
Instead of a pitcher of ale on his supper-table, the good knight would have had some tea or coffee; and instead of a chine of beef, a mess of pottage, and a great loaf of brown bread for his evening meal, he would have had some white bread, cakes, preserves, and other trifles of that sort, which in the olden days were considered only fit for children and women. The good old English gentlemen were tremendous eaters. They used to take five meals a day, and each one of them was heavy and substantial.
If Sir Marmaduke had any sons or daughters, he would have treated them very differently in the present day. Instead of keeping them at home, under the tuition of some young clergyman or ancient scholar, until they should be old enough and accomplished enough to become pages to a great lord, or companions to some great lady, he would have sent them to school, and the boys—the younger ones, at least—would have been prepared for some occupation which would support them, while the girls would have been taught to play on the piano and to work slippers.
In these days, instead of that old helmet on the floor, you would have seen a high-top hat—that is, if the old gentleman should continue to be as careless as the picture shows him; instead of a cross-bow on the floor, and another leaning against the chair, you would have seen a double-barrelled gun and a powder-horn; and instead of the picturesque and becoming clothes in which you see Sir Marmaduke, he would have worn some sort of a tight-fitting and ugly suit, such as old gentlemen now-a-days generally wear.
There were a great many advantages in the old style of living, and also a very great many disadvantages. On the whole, we should be very thankful indeed that we were born in this century, and not in the good old times of yore.
A little boy once made a very wise remark on this subject. He said: "I wish I could have seen George Washington and Israel Putnam; but I'm glad I didn't, for if I'd been alive then, I should have been dead now."
There is enough in that boy's remark for a whole composition, if any one chose to write it.
Some one once called the Giraffe a "two-story animal," and the remark was not altogether inapplicable.
As you see him in the picture, lying down, he seems to be high enough for all ordinary purposes; but when he stands up, you will see that his legs—or his lower story—will elevate him to a surprising height.
The ordinary giraffe measures about fifteen feet from the top of his head to the ground, but some of them have been known to be over sixteen feet high. Most of this height is owing to their long necks, but their fore-legs are also very long. The hind-legs seem much shorter, although, in reality, they are as long as the fore-legs. The legs and neck of the Giraffe are made long so that he can eat the leaves from the tops of young trees. This tender foliage is his favorite diet; but he will eat the foliage from any part of a tree, and he is content with the herbage on the ground, when there is nothing else.
He is not a fighting animal. Those little horns which you see on his head, and which look as if they had been broken off—although they are really their full size—are of no use as offensive weapons. When danger threatens him he runs away, and a funny sight he is then. He can run very fast, but he is very awkward; he goes like a cow on stilts.
But when there is no chance for him to run away, he can often defend himself, for he can kick like a good fellow. His hind-legs fly so fast when he is kicking that you can hardly see them, and he has been known to drive off a lion by this means of defence.
When hunters wish to catch a giraffe alive, they generally drive him into a thick woods, where his great height prevents him from running very rapidly; and as soon as they come up with him, they endeavor to entangle him in ropes, to throw him down, and to put a halter round his neck. If they only keep out of the way of his heels, there is no need of being afraid of him. When they have secured him they lead him off, if he will come; but if he is an old fellow he will not walk after them, and he is too strong to be easily pulled along, no matter how many men may be in the hunt. So in this case they generally kill him, for his skin is valuable, and his flesh is very good to eat. But if the giraffe is a young one, he will follow his captors without difficulty, for these animals are naturally very gentle.
Why the natives of Africa should desire to obtain living giraffes, unless it is to sell them to people who wish to carry them to other countries, travellers do not inform us. We have never heard that any domestic use was made of them, nor that they were kept for the sake of their meat. But we suppose the hunters know their own business.
It is probable that the lion is really the greatest enemy of the giraffe. It is not often that this crafty and powerful hunter will put himself within reach of his victim's heels. Approaching softly and slowly, the lion waits until he is quite near the giraffe, and then, with one bound, he springs upon his back. Sometimes the giraffe succeeds in shaking him off, but generally they both fall together—the giraffe dead, and the lion with his appetite whetted for an enormous dinner.
UP IN THE AIR.
We have already taken a journey under the earth, and now, if you like, we will try a trip in the air. Anything for a novelty. We have lived on the surface of the earth ever since we were born.
We will make our ascent in a balloon. It has been thought by some folks, that there were easier methods of ascending into the air than by a cumbrous balloon, but their inventions never became popular.
For instance, look at the picture of a flying-man.
This gentleman had an idea that he could fly by the aid of this ingenious machinery. You will see that his wings are arranged so that they are moved by his legs, and also by cords attached to his arms. The umbrella over his head is not intended to ward off the rain or the sun, but is to act as a sort of parachute, to keep him from falling while he is making his strokes. The basket, which hangs down low enough to be out of the way of his feet, is filled with provisions, which he expects to need in the course of his journey.
That journey lasted exactly as long as it took him to fall from the top of a high rock to the ground below.
But we are not going to trust ourselves to any such harem-scarem contrivance as this. We are going up in a regular balloon.
We all know how balloons are made, and this one of ours is like most others. It is a great globular bag, made of strips of silk sewn together, and varnished with a certain composition which renders the balloon air-tight. The car in which we will travel is made of wicker-work, for that is both light and strong, and it is suspended from a net-work of strong cord which covers the whole balloon. It would not do, you know, to attach a cord to any particular part of the silk, for that would tear it. In the top of the balloon is a valve, and a cord from it comes down into the car. This valve is to be pulled open when we wish to come down towards the earth. The gas then escapes, and of course the balloon descends. In the car are bags of sand, and these are to be emptied out when we think we are too heavy for the balloon, and are either coming down too fast or are not as high as we wish to go. Relieved of the weight of a bag, the balloon rises.
Sand is used because it can be emptied out and will not injure anybody in its descent. It would be rather dangerous, if ballooning were a common thing, for the aeronauts to throw out stones and old iron, such as are used for the ballast of a ship. If you ever feel a shower of sand coming down upon you through the air, look up, and you will probably see a balloon—that is, if you do not get some of the sand in your eyes.
The gas with which our balloon is to be filled is hydrogen gas; but I think we will not use the pure hydrogen, for it is troublesome and expensive to produce. We will get permission of the city gas authorities to take gas from one of their pipes.
That will carry us up very well indeed. When the balloon is nearly full—we never fill it entirely, for the gas expands when it rises into lighter air, and the balloon would explode if we did not leave room for this expansion—it is almost as round as a ball, and swells out proudly, struggling and pulling at the ropes which confine it to the ground.
Now we have but to attach the car, get in, and cut loose. But we are going to be very careful on this trip, and so we will attach a parachute to the balloon. I hope we may not use it, but it may save us in case of an accident. This is the manner in which the parachute will hang from the bottom of the car.
It resembles, you see, a closed umbrella without a handle, and it has cords at the bottom, to which a car is attached. If we wish to come down by means of this contrivance, we must descend from the car of the balloon to that of the parachute, and then we must unfasten the rope which attaches us to the balloon. We shall then drop like a shot; but as soon as the air gets under our parachute it will spread open, and our descent will immediately begin to be much more gradual, and if nothing unusual occurs to us, we shall come gently to the ground. This picture shows the manner in which we would come down in a parachute.
This man's balloon has probably burst, for we see it is tumbling down, and it will no doubt reach the ground before him.
When all is ready and we are properly seated in the car, with our instruments and extra clothes and ballast, and some provisions, we will give the word to "let her go."
Did you see that?
The earth dropped right down. And it is dropping, but more slowly, yet.
That is the sensation persons generally experience when they first go up in a balloon. Not being used to rising in the air, they think at first that they are stationary, and that the earth and all the people and houses on it are falling below them.
Now, then, we are off! Look down and see how everything gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller. As we pass over a river, we can look down to its very bottom; and if we were not so high we could see the fishes swimming about. The houses soon begin to look like toy-cottages, and the trees like bushes, and the creeks and rivers like silvery bands. The people now appear as black spots; we can just see some of them moving about; but if they were to shout very loud we might hear them, for sound travels upward to a great distance.
Soon everything begins to be mixed up below us. We can hardly tell the woods from the fields; all seem pretty much alike. And now we think it is getting foggy; we can see nothing at all beneath us, and when we look up and around us we can see nothing but fog.
We are in the clouds! Yes, these are the clouds. There is nothing very beautiful about them—they are only masses of vapor. But how thick that vapor is! Now, when we look up, we cannot even see the balloon above us. We are sitting in our little basket-work car, and that is all we know! We are shut out from the whole world, closed up in a cloud!
But this foggy atmosphere is becoming thinner, and we soon shoot out of it! Now we can see clearly around us. Where are the clouds? Look! there they are, spread out like a great bed below us.
How they glisten and sparkle in the bright sunlight!
Is not this glorious, to ride above the clouds, in what seems to us illimitable space! The earth is only a few miles below us, it is true, but up and around us space is illimitable.
But we shall penetrate space no longer in an upward direction. It is time we were going back to the world. We are all very cold, and the eyes and ears of some of us are becoming painful. More than that, our balloon is getting too large. The gas within it is expanding, on account of the rarity of the air.
We shall pull the rope of the valve.
Now we are descending. We are in the clouds, and before we think much about it we are out of them. We see the earth beneath us, like a great circular plain, with the centre a little elevated. Now we see the rivers; the forests begin to define themselves; we can distinguish houses, and we know that we are falling very rapidly. It is time to throw out ballast. We do so, and we descend more slowly.
Now we are not much higher than the tops of the trees. People are running towards us. Out with another bag of sand! We rise a little. Now we throw out the anchor. It drags along the ground for some distance, as the wind carries us over a field, and then it catches in a fence. And now the people run up and pull us to the ground, and the most dangerous part of our expedition is over.
For it is comparatively safe to go up in a balloon, but the descent is often very hazardous indeed.
On the preceding page is a picture of a balloon which did not come down so pleasantly as ours.
With nine persons in it, it was driven over the ground by a tremendous wind; the anchors were broken; the car was bumped against the ground ever so many times; and the balloon dashed into trees, breaking off their branches; it came near running into a railroad train; it struck and carried away part of a telegraph line, and at last became tangled up in a forest, and stopped. Several of the persons in it had their limbs broken, and it is a wonder they were not all killed.
The balloon in which we ascended was a very plain, common-sense affair; but when aerial ascents were first undertaken the balloons were very fancifully decorated.
For instance, Bagnolet's balloon and that of Le Flesselles, of which we have given you pictures, are much handsomer than anything we have at present. But they were not any more serviceable for all their ornamentation, and they differed from ours in still another way—they were "hot-air balloons."
Other balloons were furnished with all sorts of fans, rudders, etc., for the purpose of steering them, or accelerating their motion up or down.
On the next page is one of that kind.
This balloon ascended from Dijon, France, in 1784, but the steering-apparatus did not prove to be of much use.
There were other balloons devised by the early aeronauts, which were still stranger than that one which arose from Dijon. The Minerva, the picture of which you can examine at your leisure, was invented by a Mr. Robertson, in the beginning of this century. He wished to make a grand aerial voyage of several months, with a company of about sixty persons, and therefore he had to have a very large balloon. To procure this he desired the co-operation of the scientific men throughout Europe, and sent plans and descriptions of his projected balloon to all the learned societies.
This great ship of the air was to be a regular little town, as you may see. The balloon was to be one hundred and fifty feet in diameter, and was to carry a large ship, on which the passengers would be safe if they descended in the water, even if it were the middle of the ocean.
Everything was to be provided for the safety and convenience of the passengers. Around the upper part of the balloon you will see a platform, with sentries and tents. These soldiers were to be called the "air-marines." There is a small balloon—about the common size—which could be sent off like a small boat whenever occasion required. If any one got tired of the expedition, and wanted to go home, there was a parachute by which he might descend. On the deck of the ship, near the stern, was to be a little church; small houses hung from below, reached by ladders of silk, which were to be used as medicine-rooms, gymnasiums, etc.; and under the ship would hang a great hogshead, as big as a house, which would contain provisions and stores, and keep them tight and dry. There was also a kitchen; and a cannon, with which to fire off salutes, besides a number of guns, which you see projecting from the port-holes of the ship. These, I suppose, were to be used against all enemies or pirates of the air, sea, or land.
I cannot enumerate all the appendages of this wonderful balloon—you see there are telescopes, sails, great speaking-trumpets, anchors, etc.; but I will merely remark that it was never constructed.
One of the safest, and sometimes the most profitable, methods of using a balloon, is that shown in the picture, "Safe Ballooning." Here a battle is going on, and the individuals in the balloon, safely watching the progress of events and the movements of the enemy, transmit their observations to the army with which they are connected. Of course the men on the ground manage a balloon of this sort, and pull it around to any point that they please, lowering it by the ropes when the observations are concluded. Balloons are often used in warfare in this manner.
But during the late siege of Paris, balloons became more useful than they have ever been since their invention. A great many aeronauts left the besieged city, floated safely over the Prussian army, and descended in friendly localities. Some of these balloons were captured, but they generally accomplished their purposes, and were of great service to the French. On one occasion, however, a balloon from Paris was driven by adverse winds to the ocean, and its occupants were drowned.
It has not been one hundred years since the balloon was invented by the brothers Montgolfier, of France. They used heated air instead of gas, and their balloons were of course inferior to those of the present day. But we have not improved very much upon the original balloon, and what progress will eventually be made in aerial navigation it is difficult to prophesy. But there are persons who believe that in time air-ships will make regular trips in all directions, like our present steamboats and railroad-trains.
If this is ever the case, I hope we may all be living to see it.
THE HORSE OF ARABIA.
The Arabian horse has long been celebrated as the most valuable of his race. He is considered an aristocrat among horses, and only those steeds which can trace their descent from Arabian ancestors have the right to be called "thorough-bred."
Occasionally an Arabian horse is brought to this country, but we do not often see them. In fact, they would not be as valuable here as those horses which, besides Arabian descent, have also other characteristics which especially adapt them to our country and climate.
In Arabia the horse, as an individual, especially if he happens to be of the purest breed, is more highly prized than in any other part of the world. It is almost impossible to buy a favorite horse from an Arab, and even if he can be induced to sell it, the transaction is a very complicated one. In the first place, all the relations and allies of the owner must give their consent, for the parting with a horse to a stranger is a very important matter with them. The buyer must then make himself sure that the whole of the horse belongs to the man who is selling him, for the Arabs, when they wish to raise money, very often do so by selling to a member of their tribe a fore-leg, a hind-leg, or an ear, of one of their horses; and in this case, the person who is a part owner of the animal must have his proportionate share of all profits which may arise from its sale or use. This practice is very much like our method of mortgaging our lands.
When the horse is finally bought and paid for, it had better be taken away as soon as possible, for the Arabs—even those who have no interest whatever in the sale—cannot endure to see a horse which once belonged to their tribe passing into the hands of strangers. And therefore, in order to soothe their wounded sensibilities, they often steal the animal, if they can get a chance, before the buyer carries him out of their reach.
The Arabian horse is generally much more intelligent and docile than those of our country. But this is not altogether on account of his good blood. The Arab makes a friend and companion of his horse. The animal so constantly associates with man, is talked to so much, and treated so kindly, that he sometimes shows the most surprising intelligence. He will follow his master like a dog; come at his call; stand anywhere without moving, until his master returns to him; stop instantly if his rider falls from his back, and wait until he mounts again; and it has been said that an Arabian horse has been known to pick up his wounded master from the field of battle, and by fastening his teeth in the man's clothes, to carry him to a place of safety.
There is no doubt, if we were to treat our horses with gentleness and prudence, and in a measure make companions of them whenever it was possible, that they would come to regard us with much of the affection and obedience which the Arabian horse shows to his master.
INDIAN PUDDINGS: PUMPKIN PIES.
Some of the good old folks whom I well remember, called these things "Ingin-puddins and punkin pies," but now we all know what very incorrect expressions those were. Rut, even with such highly improper names, these delicacies tasted quite—as well in those days as they do now, and, if my youthful memory does not mislead me, they tasted a little better.
There is no stage of the rise and progress of Indian puddings and pumpkin pies, with which, when a youngster, I was not familiar. In the very beginning of things, when the fields were being ploughed, "we boys" were there. True, we went with no intent to benefit either the corn-crop or the pumpkin-vines. We merely searched in the newly turned-up earth for fish-worms. But for all that, we were there.
And when the corn was all planted, how zealous we used to be about the crows! What benevolent but idiotic old scarecrows we used to construct, and how extremely anxious we were to be intrusted with guns, that we might disperse, at once and forever, these black marauders! For well we knew that a few dead crows, stuck up here and there on stakes, would frighten away all the rest of the flock.